14 Traits of a Serial Cheater

A man who's a serial cheater, looking down and scratching his head because he feels bad.

At the beginning of a relationship, both partners try to show off their best sides, so it’s often difficult to tell whether this person is really the right fit for you. Trying to impress a date at first is what you should do, but there are some people who’s seemingly innocent deceptions early on in a dating relationship, hint at something more. 

If you knew someone would cheat on you later on in the relationship, would waste your time dating them at the beginning. Probably not. To avoid these types of people here are 14 common signs of a serial cheater that you need to pay attention to. 

1. They want to keep things light.
Cheaters often want to focus on just having a good time and avoid any serious or grounded topics, says Kevin Darné, author of My Cat Won’t Bark! (A Relationship Epiphany). 

“Serious discussions usually lead to making promises, giving reassurances, setting expectations, emotional investment, and developing a deeper commitment,” he explains. “Serial cheaters prefer to have their partner assume what he or she feels instead of having to openly express and confirm those feelings or their status. This allows them a certain deniability if they’re ever caught cheating since they can say, ‘We never said we were exclusive.”

2. They’re bored easily in long-term relationships.
“Monogamy for the serial cheater is the equivalent of going on a very strict diet,” says Darné.

Because of this it’s not a matter of if they’ll cheat, but when. 

“A part of them is always longing for the thrill that comes with being with someone new,” he goes on. “And there is nothing you can do to make yourself new.”

3. They’re a little too charming.
A date who’s not at all nervous, awkward, and never at a loss for words, is impressive… and rare.

“Someone with a polished approach is very attractive and pleasant, but there could be a down side,” says Dr. Tina B. Tessina, PhD, (aka “Dr. Romance”) a licensed psychotherapist and author of  Dr. Romance’s Guide to Finding Love Today. 

“It may indicate that they’re a ‘professional dater’ who’s been single a long time, dated a lot, and is very practiced,” she goes on. “If your date seems very slick and enthusiastic, but doesn’t open up, has had many short relationships, or shies away from discussing personal details, don’t be too trusting.”

4. They’re flakey and break promises.
When your phone calls aren’t returned, your date is late a few times, or doesn’t show up at all,  you are not being respected, explains Tessina.

“Remember you are both on your best behavior while dating. Things will not improve later,” she says. “If you cannot be responsible, don’t make a commitment.  This person can’t.”  

5. They’re not transparent.
There is a difference between privacy and secrecy and it’s important to remember that faithful men and women care about boundaries too.

“Bottom line: the fact that your partner is not showing you their phone every 5 minutes or doesn’t want you going through their dresser isn’t always a sign they’re guilty of something,” explains Brenda Della Casa, Author of Cinderella Was a Liar.
“That said, someone who doesn’t want you to follow their social media, gets annoyed if you tag them in something, always places their phone on silent and/or face down, or seems excessively worried about their privacy is likely hiding something.”

6. They downplay the seriousness of infidelity.
If anywhere in a discussion your date says, “everyone cheats” and tries to justify the actions of cheating, run. Anyone who believes cheating is not a big deal and that it’s common within relationships, is not someone you want to be with.

7. They don’t ever care about where you are or what you’re doing.
“If your cell phone went dead and you were unable to contact them until the following day it might surprise you to find your date hadn’t attempted to reach you,” says Darné.  “They avoid asking you a lot of questions because they don’t want you asking them a lot of questions. Trusting someone does not mean you do not get to ask them questions. Trusting someone means you believe they will give you honest answers to your questions.” 

8. They’re not willing to change their behavior.
The most obvious sign of a serial cheater is someone who continues to choose to cheat.

“They know their actions are hurtful and disrespectful, however their behavior doesn’t change,” says Jordan Madison, a licensed marriage and family therapist.  “That shows either they don’t want to, or they have no self-control or discipline,”  

9. They’re insecure and/or have low self-esteem.
A common sign of serial cheaters, and it may seem surprising, is that they may not be sure of themselves, or are looking for validation from others.

“They view sex as a form of acceptance or power. Therefore, even if they’re in a relationship, something in them may want to see if other people still want them or who they still have access to,” says Madison. 

10. Everyone before you was a problem.
“If your date’s past partners ‘didn’t understand’, were unreasonable, addicted, selfish, crazy or just mean, and it was always the other person’s fault; and your date takes no responsibility, you could be the next one on that list,” says Tessina. “Every relationship disaster takes two. A healthy person does make mistakes, and people in relationships can grow apart, but your date should know what he or she could have done better.”

11. They show deceitfulness and disregard for the rights of others.
“Serial cheaters tend to lie frequently, even about minor things that are unimportant,” says Dr. Talal H. Alsaleem, a licensed marriage and family therapist and an Infidelity Recovery Expert. “They also exhibit complete disregard for the rights of the other partner in the relationship. This can manifest through having double standards in the relationship as well as consistently taking advantage of their partners to achieve their own ends.”

12. They show a lack of remorse and empathy.
It’s like they think nothing is their fault.

“Serial cheaters are often unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others,”says Alsaleem. “They also lack remorse when confronted with making mistakes and hurting the feelings of their partner, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt or mistreated their partner.”  

13. They’ve admitted to cheating in previous relationships.
“If they had this problem in their last relationship, what work have they done on themselves to make sure that pattern doesn’t continue in their next relationship?” asks Madison. “If they haven’t done any work on themselves or taken accountability for their actions, odds are the same pattern may occur in the next relationship as well.” 

14. They’re arrogant and entitled.
“Serial cheaters can exhibit a grandiose sense of self-importance. They tend to believe that they are special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people,” says Alsaleem. “Their sense of entitlement makes them expect favorable treatment or automatic compliance with their expectations.” 

It may be hard to spot these behaviors at first, but if you’re with someone who’s cheated and they’re telling you they’ll never do it again, you may want to pay attention and think about whether they fit the profile.

Ashley Papa

Writer and Author

Ashley is a relationship writer and author of her first novel “Vixen Investigations: The Mayoral Affairs“. She writes about it all: sex, love, dating, marriage, and “crimes of the heart”.

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